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Cold weather in China kills 21 in ultramarathon

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(Last Updated On: May 23, 2021)

Twenty-one people were killed when extremely cold weather struck during an ultramarathon on Saturday in rugged Gansu province in northwestern China, state media reported on Sunday, sparking public outrage over the lack of contingency planning.

The 100-km race began from a lush tourist site at a bend in the Yellow River, China’s second-longest. The route would take runners through deep canyons and undulating hills on an arid plateau at an elevation of more than 1,000 metres, Reuters reported.

The race kicked off on Saturday morning with runners clad in t-shirts and shorts under overcast skies, according to photographs posted on the social media account of the Yellow River Stone Forest scenic area in Jingtai, a county under the jurisdiction of Baiyin city.

Around noon on Saturday, a mountainous section of the race was hit by hail, freezing rain and gales that caused temperatures to plummet, officials from Baiyin told a news briefing on Sunday.

A massive rescue effort was initiated, with over 1,200 rescuers dispatched, assisted by thermal-imaging drones, radar detectors and demolition equipment, according to Xinhua.

A landslide following the severe weather also hampered the rescue work, said officials from Baiyin, about 1,000 km west of the Chinese capital Beijing, Reuters reported.

A total of 172 people took part in the race. By Sunday, 151 participants had been confirmed safe, while a last missing runner was found dead at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, state media reported.

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Macron says French forces killed ISIS leader in Sahara

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2021)

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday that French military forces had killed Islamic State (ISIS) militant Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the leader of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

“It’s another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel,” Macron said in a tweet, without disclosing the location of the operation.

Sahrawi was the historic leader of ISIS in the Sahel region of West Africa and his group targeted U.S. soldiers in a deadly attack in 2017, Macron’s office said.

In August 2020, Sahrawi personally ordered the killing of six French charity workers and their Nigerien driver, it added.

Macron said in July that France would soon begin reshaping its force in the Sahel, where it has been on the front line of the fight against ISIS, and would ultimately halve its military presence, Reuters reported.

With no apparent end in sight to France’s operations and political turmoil especially in Mali, Paris had grown frustrated.

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North Korea tests first ‘strategic’ cruise missile with possible nuclear capability

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(Last Updated On: September 13, 2021)

North Korea carried out successful tests of a new long-range cruise missile over the weekend, state-run television KRT said on Monday, seen by analysts as possibly the country’s first such weapon with a nuclear capability.

The weapons system “holds strategic significance” and the missiles flew 1,500 km before hitting their targets and falling into the country’s territorial waters during the tests on Saturday and Sunday, the KRT news presenter said.

The latest test highlighted steady progress in Pyongyang’s weapons program amid a gridlock over talks aimed at dismantling the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs in return for U.S. sanctions relief. The talks have stalled since 2019.

South Korea’s military did not disclose whether it had detected the North’s latest tests, but said on Monday it was conducting a detailed analysis in cooperation with the United States. The U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) said it was aware of the reports and was coordinating with its allies and partners.

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Biden and China’s Xi discuss managing competition, avoiding conflict in call

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(Last Updated On: September 10, 2021)

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke by phone with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping for about 90 minutes on Thursday, a senior U.S. official said, with both leaders discussing the need to avoid letting competition between the world’s two largest economies veer into conflict.

Relations between Washington and Beijing have been at their lowest point in decades and it was only the second call between the leaders since Biden took office in January.

A White House statement said the two leaders had “a broad, strategic discussion,” including “areas where our interests converge, and areas where our interests, values, and perspectives diverge.”

The conversation focused on economic issues, climate change, and COIVD-19, the senior U.S. official said.

Chinese state media said the conversation was “candid” and “in-depth”, adding that President Xi said U.S. policy on China imposes great difficulties on relations between the two.

The Chinese report added that both sides agreed to maintain frequent contact and to ask working-level teams to increase communications.

Occasional high-level meetings since Xi and Biden’s first call in February have yielded scant progress on a slew of issues, from climate change to human rights, and transparency over the origins of COVID-19.

During the ensuing months, the two sides have lashed out at each other on an almost constantly, often resorting to vitriolic public attacks, slapping sanctions on each other’s officials and criticizing the other for not upholding their international obligations.

“President Biden underscored the United States’ enduring interest in peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and the world and the two leaders discussed the responsibility of both nations to ensure competition does not veer into conflict,” the statement said.

The Biden administration, preoccupied by a chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, has signaled that ending America’s longest war will give U.S. political and military leaders the space to focus on more pressing threats stemming from China’s rapid rise.

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